Russia and China to wrap up gas talks by June 10: Moscow

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Russia and China hope to finish talks on a crucial gas deal by June 10, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said Tuesday after talks with the Chinese energy minister, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian gas giant Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) "were given until June 10 to finish talks and prepare a range of commercial contracts for signing," Sechin told journalists after talks with Chinese energy minister Liu Tienan, the Interfax news agency reported.

The talks came after Gazprom and CNPC signed a framework agreement in 2009 which could eventually see 70 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas sent to China, but negotiations became mired in differences over pricing.

Russia hopes the contracts will be signed when the Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Russia to attend an investor forum in Saint Petersburg to be held June 16-18, Sechin said.

"We are expecting that we will sign the range of contracts during the visit of the Chinese president to Russia," Sechin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.

Asked if Chinese and Russian officials had managed to agree on gas prices, the Chinese energy minister told a briefing that: "One small step remains for us until this last goal of ours."

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the ITAR-TASS news agency on Tuesday that the price of the gas was still being negotiated.

"We still have to agree the price formula but we have negotiated the approval of very important agreements," Peskov said.

© 2011 AFP

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